Travis Head’s masterful performance with the bat and the ball propelled Australia to a World Cup final match against India on Thursday in Kolkata, following a tense three-wicket victory over South Africa.
South African spirits are broken as Australia sets its World Cup final against India. In the second semi-final in Kolkata, Australia faltered after Head hit 62 while chasing a difficult 213 for victory. However, Steve Smith (30) and Josh Inglis (28) assisted the five-time champions in reaching their target with 16 balls remaining.
Despite David Miller’s excellent 101, South Africa was condemned to a fifth-place semi-final exit, as Australia advanced to their eighth World Cup final. Australia fell to 137-5 and 193-7 before captain Pat Cummins (14) and Mitchell Starc (16) maintained composure to lead the team home.
Following his two-wicket haul, the part-time off-spinner and left-handed batsman Head distinguished himself with a forty-eight-run assault that included two sixes and nine fours off the pitch.
Australia was in peril when they trailed five runs, and the rapid succession of spinners Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi rattled the middle order.
Maharaj dismissed Head after bowling him for 40 and 57 runs, and in his next over, left-arm wrist spinner Shamsi spun Marnus Labuschagne for 18 runs and dismissed Glenn Maxwell for one.
Despite beginning the tournament with two defeats, Australia won eight. Cummins also took three wickets as he bowled South Africa out for 212 in 49.4 overs. Starc spearheaded the innings with figures of 3-34.
Left-arm rapid South Africa captain Temba Bavuma, who had stated he was not “one hundred percent fit” at the time of the toss, was dismissed for a fourth-ball duck by Starc in the first over.
Quinton de Kock, who was in fine form, was taken out for three runs by Josh Hazlewood, while Cummins made an outstanding catch.
De Kock, who will retire from one-day international cricket following the World Cup, finished the tournament second in scoring with 594 runs, which included four centuries, after Virat Kohli (711).
With the wickets of Aiden Markram (10) and Rassie van der Dussen (six), the new-ball spinners maintained the attack as South Africa fell to 24-4 and were 44-4 when rain halted play.
Following the 45-minute rain break, Klaasen and Miller scored 95 runs in response, but Head prevailed and bowled Klaasen for 47.
On the following delivery, Head bowled a hat-trick-threatening Marco Jansen lbw. Gerald Coetzee, in a 53-run partnership with Miller, rescued the day. In 116 balls, the left-handed Miller blasted eight fours and five sixes. The final will be held at the world’s largest cricket stadium, Ahmedabad, on Sunday.